The Sceptic Blog

Random thoughts of a random chappy

Posts Tagged ‘shiur

Copyright and Copywrong

with 5 comments

  1. I sat in a shiur a few weeks ago given by a rising star presently learning for a dayonus semichah (ordination as a judge of Jewish civil law) in a prestigious institution in America.
  2. The handout included a diagram which he mentioned he had copied from a particular contemporary edition of a standard Jewish work.
  3. After the shiur I suggested that he should add to the handout the details of the permission given by the copyright owner for the reproduction, in order to avoid the prohibition of ma’aris ho’ayin (creating reasonable suspicion that he might have behaved improperly).  He beamingly replied that this was why he had mentioned that he had copied the diagram, because that made it okay.
  4. I had to explain that telling people where you’ve copied from doesn’t make the copying lawful: any more than it becomes lawful for me to steal money from your pocket just because I tell the shopkeeper where I pinched it from when I spend it.
  5. He thanked me politely, but I’m not sure he was convinced.
  6. And he is going to be a dayan …
  7. (Even if they hadn’t got around on the course to learning about intellectual property, you would hope that they would enter the course with enough common sense to work out for themselves that just saying where you got something doesn’t make it yours.)
  8. It’s about time that everyone got the message that any shiur handout sheet that contains a reproduction from any work that is likely to be under copyright protection anywhere in the world should be treated like poison and avoided unless it clearly states that permission was sought and obtained, and recites compliance with any conditions.
  9. (Anyone who thinks that so long as it’s only a few pages nobody will care is wrong: a few years ago Rabbi Cooper ztz’l asked me to make a few copies of the Terumah and Ma’ser Brochos from the Artscroll Siddur – I contacted Artscroll and although I only wanted to make a few copies for non-commercial use they were rightly careful to inquire into the precise circumstances, and they kindly gave their permission on specified conditions.)
  10. Tzion b’mishpot tipodeh – which roughly translates as “Until we bring up our youngsters with a reasonably instinctive understanding of right and wrong, and an appreciation of the difference between meum and tuum, we might as well save ourselves the trouble of praying beseechingly and endearingly for Moschiach to come.”

Written by Daniel Greenberg

January 3, 2017 at 4:08 pm